Viral Dog Videos Aren’t What They Seem

I have really grown to loathe viral dog videos, and just so you know you won’t be seeing any in this post, because I reckon they get enough eyeballs on them. You know the type…  the clips that show dogs in awkward situations or doing seemingly hilarious things like dance, or be dressed up by toddlers. They get millions of views from all over the world and people get a kick out of watching then. So why should I hate viral videos of dogs with such a passion? Well, because they are rarely what they may seem.

Perhaps the most distressing type of video that does the rounds on Facebook again and again, is the type that shows dogs dancing along to a beat by dipping its head up and down and bobbing on its knees. There is a fairly famous one of a street dog doing this in time to car stereo, and recently another one has surfaced featuring a ‘dancing’ dog bobbing along to the music while a dancer busts some moves in front of him.

The sad reality of these videos is that the dog has no concept of music, and isn’t dancing along in time to the rhythm. Instead, what you are looking at is a dog showing symptoms of distemper, an often fatal viral disease which affects the central nervous system in dogs. The disease affects the motor skills of the dog, causing twitching in the muscles and, in more severe cases, these all over body movements which may look like the dog is and owner watching viral dog videos on laptop

It was after watching a couple of these horrible videos of dogs with distemper, and seeing thousands of people laugh at them with glee, that I started to wise up about the truth behind viral videos of dogs, and I started taking them more seriously.

Another variety of unsettling dog videos are the ones which show dogs fiercely protecting their pregnant owners, often from the baby’s father. The clip always goes the same way – the father reaches out to touch the mother’s bump and the dog lunges and snaps at the hand. What you often see next is laughter from the mother, and the dog getting petted. This is overly protective behaviour which has been trained into the dog, by one of the owners reinforcing the dog’s actions through stroking and praise. It is dangerous, and should never be encouraged. Ever. End of.

And finally, in my roundup of viral dog videos which I find abhorrent, are of course the ‘adorable’ videos featuring small children mess around with unhappy dogs.  The worst of these was a clip of a young girl hugging a rottweiler who was in a great deal of stress and showing clear signals that he wanted to be left alone, including growling and lip licking.

A huge proportion of viral dog videos show dogs that are ill, unhappy, stressed, badly trained or even potentially dangerous. Next time you see one, will you do me a favour? Think for a second about what is really going on in that video before you hit ‘like’ and ‘share’.


About me

Joy Jewell is a London based dog obsessive and style connoisseur. Joy has worked in the fashion and beauty industry as a writer for nearly a decade, and decided to fuse her two loves – style and canines – to create Paws and Prada in 2014. If you would like to talk to Joy about anything from blogging to puppy training then drop her a line at [email protected] or find her on Twitter @PawsandPrada.


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Reply March 4, 2016

I do wonder about some of them, especially the ones showing aggressive behaviour. I find that frightening, not funny. I hate videos of dogs and cats dressed up in stupid outfits. It's so undignified. A coat in inclement weather, depending on the breed, is fine. Otherwise, leave the poor animal alone! How did you find out some of the videos were exploiting sick animals? That's teally disturbing.

    Reply March 4, 2016

    Hey Alison! The signs of distemper are very obvious when you know what they are, for example this video which has been going round the web for ages now - - the way the dog is moving is in no way normal or natural, if you saw your dog doing this at home without any music playing, alarm bells would start going off and you'd be straight off to the vet. This one is especially upsetting - - you can see that the dog looks terrified and is licking its lips which is a signal of stress and anxiety. Really nasty stuff!

Kate, Wondrous
Reply March 8, 2016

I regularly see these, its great to get your opinion on it. I often find the music head bob ones annoying too. But I never thought to think about whether or not the dog might be overly protective or distressed and will be thinking twice next time I watch any of these videos! Kate

Reply March 9, 2016

Wow, I haven’t been watching any videos with crazy sick “dance” moves luckily. But I too don’t like the ones with the dog showing aggression or the signs of distress and being praised for it. It makes my blood boil! The titles of videos are often misleading with intention to grab more viewers than they really deserve. But I have to say… I love those videos where dogs are having fun or dreaming while they are asleep. So adorable.

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